24 Aug 2012

Report finds evacuation call might have saved teen

1:00 pm on 24 August 2012

A report on a landslide that killed a teenager in eastern Bay of Plenty says the tragedy could have been avoided had there been a call earlier in the day to evacuate vulnerable houses.

Hugh Biddle, who was 17, was killed when a landslide caused by torrential rain smashed into the bedroom of his home at the foot of a cliff in Ohope in June last year.

GNS science and GeoNet have concluded after an investigation of information on the accident that landslides pose an unacceptable risk to houses at the bottom of the cliff.

Their report says evacuating these houses when there is a local heavy rain warning would help prevent fatalities.

It says building consent should not be given for houses at the bottom of a steep cliff, and the local authority should consider zoning the area as non-residental.

The Whakatane District Council says that after a similar event in 2004 it sent a letter advising residents close to the cliff base to consider evacuating their properties during periods of heavy rain.